Civil Rights in the United States
The Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, which disabled Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, has led some advocates (including the White House) to argue that voting rights are in peril. But other experts say these fears are wildly overblown and that Shelby County confirms that circumstances have changed dramatically for the better. They argue that Section 5’s federal “preclearance” regime can no longer be justified given that the systematic disenfranchisement of the Jim Crow era has disappeared—racial disparities in voter registration and turnout are gone, especially in previously covered jurisdictions—and that we should focus on actual instances of racial discrimination (as well as election administration). After all, Sections 2 and 3 are still very much in place, although Section 2 has been interpreted to require racial gerrymandering in a way that benefits both major parties but harms American democracy. This panel will discuss the state of voting rights today, including the Justice Department’s enforcement actions, proposed legislation in Congress, voter-ID laws, felon voting, and related issues in the states.
This panel on "The Future of Voting Rights" was part of a day-long conference on Civil Rights in the United States held on September 9, 2014, and co-sponsored by the Federalist Society's Civil Rights Practice Group, the Cato Institute, and the Heritage Foundation.
- Mr. David H. Gans, Director, Human Rights, Civil Rights, and Citizenship Program, Constitutional Accountability Center
- Mr. Ilya Shapiro, Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies, Cato Institute
- Mr. Hans A. von Spakovsky, Senior Legal Fellow and Manager, Civil Justice Reform Initiative, The Heritage Foundation
- Moderator: Mr. Michael Barone, Senior Political Analyst, the Washington Examiner
The Mayflower Hotel Civil Rights Practice Group and Free Speech & Election Law Practice Group Podcast
On Tuesday, June 25, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Shelby County v. Holder, a Voting Rights Act case. Our expert discusses the decision and the implications.
- Hon. Abigail Thernstrom, Vice-chair, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and Adjunct Scholar, American Enterprise Institute
- Moderator: Mr. Dean A. Reuter, Vice President & Director of Practice Groups, The Federalist Society
[Listen now!] SCOTUScast 7-8-13 featuring Abigail Thernstrom
On June 25, 2013, the Supreme Court announced its decision in Shelby County v. Holder. The question in this case was whether Congress’s 2006 decision to reauthorize Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act under the pre-existing coverage formula of Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act exceeded its authority under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and thus violated the Tenth Amendment and Article IV of the United States Constitution. Civil Rights Practice Group, American Constitution Society, and National Constitution Center Podcast
In an opinion delivered by Chief Justice Roberts, the Court held by a vote of 5-4 that Section 4 of the Voting Rights act is unconstitutional, and therefore cannot be used to subject jurisdictions to preclearance requirements. Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas and Alito joined the majority opinion. Justice Thomas filed a concurring opinion. Justice Ginsburg filed a dissenting opinion, which was joined by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan.
To discuss the case, we have Abigail Thernstrom, who is the vice-chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and an adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
The Federalist Society co-sponsored a Teleforum call with the National Constitution Center and the American Constitution Society to discuss the Supreme Court's decisions in the Fisher affirmative action case and the Shelby County Voting Rights Act case. On this previously recorded conference call, Roger Clegg, President and CEO of the Center for Equal Opportunity, Erwin Chemerinsky, Founding Dean of the University of California, Irvine, School of Law, and Jeffrey Rosen, President and CEO of the National Constitution Center, discuss the opinions and their implications.
- Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, Founding Dean, University of California, Irvine School of Law
- Mr. Roger Clegg, President and General Counsel, Center for Equal Opportunity
- Moderator: Prof. Jeffrey Rosen, George Washington University Law School, and President and Chief Executive Officer, National Constitution Center